Soldier of the Year Competition

 

Written by Sgt. Kelly Collett

Published April 10, 2006

 

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Sgt 1st Class Evans watches closely to make sure Staff Sgt. Eldon Davis is correctly performing the push-up before counting it for the APFT.

Photo by Sgt. Kelly Collett

Sgt 1st Class Evans watches closely to make sure Staff Sgt. Eldon Davis

is correctly performing the push-up before counting it for the APFT.

CAMP WILLIAMS, Utah – Fourteen Utah National Guard members competed Mar. 23-25 for the titles of Soldier of the Year, Noncommissioned Officer (NCO) of the Year, and First Sergeant of the Year at Camp Williams.

 

The competition tested the participants on many different levels including physical fitness, land-navigation skills, rifle marksmanship and knowledge in common Soldier tasks.

 

At the end of the second day of competition participants went before a final board to demonstrate their qualities as leaders and Soldiers.

 

“We have the overall best Soldiers, and this is the competition the Soldiers will do at Region, First Armored Division and FORSCOM,” said Utah National Guard Command Sgt. Maj. Dell Smith.

 

Guard members in the past who competed for Soldier of the Year only had to present themselves before a board.

 

“It’s important because it is a fairer system than just a board system,” Smith added.

 

Utah Army Guard Sgt. Jennifer Kelley said about the competition, “I think it went pretty smoothly.  This is the first year we have ever done it this way, and we were expecting a couple of things that we needed to keep in mind for next year.”

 

Kelley oversaw a large part in the competition by dealing with the administrative portion and keeping track of Soldiers’ scores.

 

“It was close,” Kelley said. “All of them did very well, and there were only a few points between the top people in each category.  In the First Sergeant category, there was only one point difference.”

 

Sgt. Gregory Annis gives his all as he sprints down the last stretch for the two-mile run.

Photo by Sgt. Kelly Collett

Sgt. Gregory Annis gives his all as he sprints

down the last stretch for the two-mile run.

When it was all over the winners were Spc. James Carlson, Bravo Battery, 1-148th Field Artillery (Soldier); Staff Sgt. Wyatt Davis, 640th Regional Training Institute (NCO) and 1st Sgt. Kevin Martinez, Bravo Battery, 1-148th Field Artillery (First Sergeant).

 

Each of the winners was honored Mar. 25 at a banquet dinner for participants and their families.

 

Carlson, a Sandy resident, scored highly in every event of the competition.  He shot expert in the weapons-qualification round, and he received the highest score during the final board, which reflected his determination throughout the competition.

 

Carlson has served with the National Guard for over four years and within that time, he deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom for 18 months and spent a year in Iraq with his unit.

 

He wrote his essay for the competition about Baron Fredrick Von Steuben, a Prussian Army officer who traveled from Europe during the Revolutionary War to aid America in training their military leaders. Carlson felt that it was because of Von Steuben’s training and example that we as a nation were successful in winning the war.

 

Carlson has an identical twin brother, Jonathon, who deployed with him to Iraq and aided him as a mentor and coach throughout the competition.

 

Davis, a Beaver resident, excelled in every aspect of the competition.  He shot expert in the weapons-qualification round.  He also received the highest score on the physical fitness test and continued to excel throughout the remainder of the events.

 

Sgt. Richard Hadlock is tested on his common task training of knowing how to properly work a sincgars radio.

Photo by Sgt. Kelly Collett

Sgt. Richard Hadlock is tested on his common task training

 of knowing how to properly work a SINCGARS radio.

Davis has served with the National Guard for close to nine years and in that time he has received the Regimental NCO of the Year and Instructor of the Cycle awards, along with many other honors and medals.

 

Davis wrote about the role of NCOs in his essay for the competition. He summed up his feelings about the NCO corps by calling it “one of the greatest traditions in the military today; the backbone of the Army.”

 

Martinez, a Roy resident, has served for over 21 years and spent several of those overseas in Germany and a year in Iraq.  He is a veteran of the Gulf War as well as Operation Iraqi Freedom, where he led his 120 Soldiers in combat as their first sergeant.

 

Soldiers who competed in the Soldier of the Year contest were as follows:

 

  • Spc. Christopher Bamford, Bravo Company, 1457th Engineer Battalion

  • Spc. James Carlson, Bravo Batter, 1-148th Field Artillery

  • Spc. Timothy Fairhurst, Headquarters, 19th Special Forces

  • Spc. Jarod Babcock, Medical Command

  • Sgt. Daniel Saunders, Headquarters, 300th Military Intelligence Brigade

  • Sgt. Cody Rasmussen, Echo Company, 1st Battalion, 211th Aviation

 

Contestants for NCO of the Year were the following:

 

  • Staff Sgt. Walter Henriquez, Charlie Company, 1-211th Aviation

  • Staff Sgt. Timothy Kelley, Charlie Company, 142nd Military Intelligence Battalion

  • Staff Sgt. Wyatt Davis, 640th Regional Training Institute

  • Sgt. Gregory Annis, Headquarters, I Corps Artillery

  • Staff Sgt. Eldon Davis, 97th Troop Command

  • Sgt. Richard Hadlock, Headquarters, 1457th Engineer Battalion

 

These were the First Sergeant of the Year contestants:

 

  • 1st Sgt. Stephan Vogl, 300th Military Intelligence Brigade

  • 1st Sgt Kevin Martinez, Bravo Battery, 1-148th Field Artillery

 

Smith said of this year’s competition, “I was really pleased with it overall.  We have some great Soldiers who did a great job.”

 

Spc. Timothy Fairhurst concentrates as he fires his M16 during the weapon qualification round of competition.

Photo by Sgt. Kelly Collett

Spc. Timothy Fairhurst concentrates as he fires his M16

during the weapon qualification round of competition.

Spc. Christopher Bamford gets his bearings before setting off on his journey during the land navigation course.

Photo by Sgt. Kelly Collett

Spc. Christopher Bamford gets his bearings before setting off

on his journey during the land navigation course.

Staff Sgt. Walter Enriquez starts his mission to complete the land navigation course.

Photo by Sgt. Kelly Collett

Staff Sgt. Walter Henriquez starts his mission to complete the land navigation course.

Spc. Fairhurst's coach takes a closer look at his target during weapons zeroing to better assist him during the weapons qualification competition.

Photo by Sgt. Kelly Collett

Spc. Fairhurst's coach takes a closer look at his target during weapons zeroing to better assist him during the weapons qualification competition.